10 Important Stories from 06/15/19 Box Scores: Young Pitchers Show Potential, Valuing Various Veterans (Nola, Puig, Darvish) & More

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Chris Sale was impressive yet again, allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 10, over 6.0 IP to defeat the Orioles.  Shane Bieber was spectacular against the Tigers, allowing 2 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 12, over 7.2 IP.  Walker Buehler left in line for a W, but the bullpen couldn’t hold it, as he tossed a gem with 7.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 0 BB, striking out 6.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) Should we be concerned with Stephen Strasburg…
It was an ugly ending line for the second time in his past three starts, as the Diamondbacks took Strasburg deep four times en route to him allowing 6 ER on 9 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 IP.  It’s interesting the home runs were an issue, considering he generated 8 groundballs vs. 2 fly balls and entered the day with a 51.4% groundball rate.  That would appear to make it a bit of an aberration, and considering he’s paired that with both strikeouts (10.88 K/9) and control (2.27 BB/9) it’s hard to get too concerned over the little bump in the road.  It also isn’t like there’s been extreme luck helping him (.280 BABIP, 70.8% strand rate) so don’t make the mistake of pushing the panic button.  He’s going to be just fine and one of the better options in the league.

2) Jimmy Nelson fails to impress once again…
His first two starts back for the Brewers have come against the Marlins and Giants, so you would think he had the opportunity to find his footing rather quickly.  However that hasn’t been the case, as he first struggled against Miami (3.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 2 K) and he was arguably worse against the Giants yesterday as he allowed 4 ER on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 6, over 4.0 IP.  Obviously we have to give Nelson a little bit of time, as he missed all of ’18 and had thrown 24.0 innings at Triple-A before joining Milwaukee’s rotation.  However the matchups aren’t going to get any easier and this type of start is going to give cause for concern.  There’s enough upside to keep him stashed on your bench, but for now he’s completely unusable.

3) Just how good is the Astros’ Framber Valdez…
While yesterday’s performance came against a Toronto lineup without Vladimir Guerrero Jr., that doesn’t take away from the impressive performance from Valdez.  Going 6.0 IP he allowed 2 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, to improve to 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 39.0 IP.  He was pulled after just 82 pitches, after being lifted having thrown 84 pitches in his previous outing, but he’s still being stretched out as a starter so it makes a little bit of sense.  Over these past two starts he’s allowed 3 ER with 2 BB vs. 15 K over 13.0 IP.  The strikeouts haven’t generally been there this season (he entered with a 7.64 K/9), but he did generate 12 swinging strikes yesterday (and had a 10.8% SwStr% entering the day) and has been a groundball machine (8 groundballs vs. 2 fly balls yesterday after entering with a 59.1% groundball rate).  Obviously we’d like to see a few more strikeouts but the upside is there.

4) Another solid showing for Pablo Lopez…
Taking on the Pirates it wasn’t a blow away performance, but it was solid as he allowed 3 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 7.0 IP to earn the W.  That said the underlying numbers were impressive, including 16 swinging strikes as well 12 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls.  He entered the day showing more than enough in all three skills (8.91 K/9, 2.20 BB/9 and 47.7% groundball rate overall), and you would think that there was more upside in his 4.26 ERA (especially given his 68.3% strand rate).  He’s often been talked about as a breakout candidate and all the tools are there, so while there may be some bumps (and some difficulty getting W) he’s well worth owning in most formats.

5) Kolten Wong shows why there’s some under-the-radar value…
He’s playing regularly, which alone is going to put him on radars, but he’s also become a potential difference maker in stolen bases.  He went 2-5 with 2 SB yesterday (the Cardinals stole six bases) and is now hitting .250 with 7 HR, 30 RBI, 28 R and 13 SB.  While the average isn’t good, he does show a good approach (8.3% SwStr%, 27.4% O-Swing%), uses the entire field (28.0% Oppo%) and has been hitting the ball harder than ever before (36.8%, compared to a 27.9% career mark).  He should improve his .270 BABIP and should continue to show a little bit of power (over the past two seasons he’s hit 16 HR over 577 AB) while showing the ability to steal 25+ bases.  While his value would be better if he was hitting towards the top of the batting order, for those searching for middle infield help he holds appeal.

6) Are we starting to see a turnaround from Yasiel Puig…
He went 1-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, and while the overall numbers are ugly (.223 with 12 HR and 9 SB) he’s starting to show signs of getting going.  He’s now on a modest four game hitting streak (7-16, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R) and has hits in seven of his past eight games (including 3 doubles and 2 HR).  Of course even as there have been some positive results, he has 11 K vs. 0 BB in 10 June games while showing a terrible approach (15.3% SwStr%, 42.2% O-Swing% in his first 9 June games) and he’s clearly trying to swing for the fences (50.0% fly ball rate).  Hitting the ball hard isn’t enough, and if he doesn’t fix these issues he’s going to continue to struggle.  There’s enough upside to make him worth stashing in deeper formats, but in shallower leagues it’s at the point that moving on isn’t unreasonable.

7)  Aaron Nola reverts back to his struggles…
Just when you thought he was turning things around he goes to Atlanta and tosses a dud, allowing 5 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 4.1 IP.  He allowed a pair of home runs, including one to Austin Riley (1-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R), and now owns a 4.89 ERA and 1.51 WHIP over 81.0 IP.  This is actually the second dud he’s had in his past three and overall he entered the day with a diminished SwStr% (9.0%, down from 12.4% in ’18) and is getting hit significantly harder than before (36.4% Hard%, up from a 28.8% career mark).  We would expect better than a .340 BABIP and he’s allowed more home runs than you’d expect (1.29 HR/9, despite a 47.6% groundball rate entering the day).  Is it possible that he’s not the actual ace we expected, or can he finally turn things around?  Time will tell, but there’s obviously too much upside to sell low.

8) Ian Desmond continues to post big numbers at the dish…
While German Marquez was struggling on the mound (5.2 IP, 7 ER, 10 H, 4 BB, 8 K), overshadowing the offensive explosion a bit (Colorado scored 14 runs), Desmond was thriving at the plate.  He finished the day going 2-4 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R, giving him home runs in back-to-back games (along with 9 RBI) and a nine game hitting streak (14-32 with 3 HR, 14 RBI, 7 R and 1 SB).  It would appear to be a promising development, and the fact is that it’s a breakout people should’ve seen coming.  He entered the day with a 40.8% Hard% and 32.4% Oppo%, and while showing more of a fly ball approach it’s hardly a number that should cripple his upside (32.6%).  Throw in an approach that is on par with what he’s done throughout his career (11.8% SwStr%, 27.4% O-Swing%) and playing half his games in Coors and what’s not to like?  That’s not to say that he can’t fall off a cliff again, but he’s worth using right now.

9) Are people ready to buy into the breakout of Marcus Semien…
He had a monster game yesterday, helping to support Frankie Montas (6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 9 K), as he went 3-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 3 R, raising his season line to .276 with 10 HR, 35 RBI, 45 R and 5 SB.  He’s now on a 12 game hitting streak (21-53, 3 HR, 11 RBI and 10 R) and is showing signs of being an even better form of the player who hit .238 with 27 HR and 10 SB back in ’16 (before injuries helped to limit him).  He entered the day continuing to show an improved approach (6.9% SwStr%, 24.1% O-Swing%) while hitting the ball hard (36.3% HR/FB) and his HR/FB is up (10.5% entering the day).  Is it a stretch that he can continue to hit .270+ with 20/20 upside? 

10) Yu Darvish tosses a gem against the Dodgers…
He made one mistake, allowing a solo home run to Alex Verdugo, but was otherwise spectacular as he allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 10, over 7.0 IP.  Before we get too excited he wasn’t generated a significant number of swings and misses (11) nor was he getting groundballs (4 groundballs vs. 7 fly balls), and even with the start he owns an ugly 4.65 ERA and 1.39 WHIP.  Overall he’s continued to struggle with home runs (14 HR over 79.1 IP) and his control hasn’t been very good.  The latter has been better of late (1 BB over 13.0 IP), though it’s never been a strong suit, and his overall 48.4% groundball rate gives a sense of hope.  Like with the control, that’s never been a strong suit of his (41.7% for his career) and perhaps the increased usage of his cut-fastball (27.9%) helps to explain the change?  If he can continue to find the strike zone the upside is there, and while it’s hard to trust him there’s enough to justify holding out a little bit of hope.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

5 COMMENTS

  1. RP: when you look at Valdez’s 2018 and his overall body of work, don’t positive conclusions become all the more convincing?

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